History: Preserving the Past
Marshallton’s sense of place is largely derived from the historic structures still standing in the village today. These century-old buildings help us understand and appreciate a critical and formative time in our nation’s history. They illustrate our cultural heritage and connect today’s residents with the past. Preserving the historic structures in Marshallton is essential if we are to maintain that connection to the past for future generations.
Located on a ridge in West Bradford Township, between West Chester and Downingtown, surrounded by the east and west branches of the Brandywine and strategically located between Lancaster and Philadelphia, the Village of Marshallton is a charming National Register Historic District that rose from a few farms and families.
Primarily an agricultural community, Marshallton was established in the 18th century and flourished as a crossroad village due to its proximity to Strasburg Road and nearby waterways. In addition to agriculture, blacksmiths, coopers, shoemakers, and wheelwrights practiced their trades as the village functioned as a rural service center for both travelers and nearby farmers.
Within Chester County, Marshallton is the most cohesive and intact village found today featuring 50 century-old dwellings, two historic inns, a restored blacksmith shop, two places of worship, the former town hall and community school, three cemeteries and a few small stores. Three of these historically significant buildings are listed in the National Register: the Humphry Marshall house, a 1773 stone house in the Georgian vernacular; the Marshalton Inn, a double-door Georgian built in 1814 as a hotel; and the Bradford Friends Meetinghouse, dating from 1765 and representative of the Colonial style as seen in Quaker meetinghouses. These structures help us understand and appreciate a critical and formative time in our nation’s history. They illustrate our cultural heritage and connect today’s residents with the past.
See for yourself why Marshallton is the historic jewel of Chester County. Download the free izi.travel app to your smartphone (available from the Apple App Store for iPhone or Google Play Store for Android or Windows Phone Store). Search under audio guides for "Marshallton Village". There are 34 points of interest in this one-hour tour and you can start the tour at any point.
You may also access the tour online by clicking on the button below. Search for “Marshallton Village” under Audio Guides.
Take a self-guided walking tour of the Village of Marshallton
Marshallton Oral History Project
The Marshallton Conservation Trust, the West Bradford Historical Commission and the Friends of Martin’s Tavern working collaboratively, have completed the Marshallton Oral History Project. The purpose of this effort was to provide and memorialize the personal, firsthand recollections of village life in the mid part of the 20th century by people who are still connected to the village today.
Oral histories are an important type of historical preservation and provide a rare opportunity to talk about and record history face to face. It is a living history of people’s unique life experiences.
Step back in time to experience what life was like in Marshallton in the mid-20th century…
Marshallton Oral History Project
Marshallton Oral History Project Trailer
Marshallton Oral History Project - Jack M. Hines, Jr.
Marshallton Oral History Project - Jack M. Hines, Jr., Franklin R. Marshall, Edwin "Ed" Hill
Marshallton Oral History Project - Jack McFadden
Marshallton Oral History Project - Harry Cann
Marshallton Oral History Project - Carl "Bunny" Meister
Marshallton Oral History Project - Douglas R. & Marjorie Cann Barr
Marshallton Oral History Project - Mary Anna Cann Evans
Marshallton Oral History Project - Ron Trimble & Nancy Busby
Oral History Biographies
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the individuals who participated in this special project to preserve the history of our village. Read more about these Marshallton historians by clicking on each name below.
Humphry Marshall (1722-1801), the namesake of the Village of Marshallton, was a celebrated botanist and scientist known for his contributions to astronomy, meteorology, agriculture, and natural science.
As one of the first American botanists, he studied and promoted native flora. Known as the “Father of American Dendrology”–the study of woody plants–Humphry Marshall was the first person to categorize and describe the different species of trees and shrubs in North America in his book, “Arbustrum Americanum: The American Grove.” He is also said to have built the first greenhouse in Chester County in 1764, along with establishing the nation’s second botanical garden (the first having been established by his cousin John Bartram.) Always a visionary and ahead of his time, Marshall advocated to Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin the need for a Western expedition 18 years before Lewis and Clark. He also pushed for reforestation to prevent runoff and erosion at a time when trees were considered a menace to development. Marshall’s scientific work earned him honorary memberships to the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, where he shared his ground-breaking ideas on scientific farming methods.
Humphry Marshall died on November 5, 1801 and lies buried in an unmarked grave at the Bradford Meeting burial ground, in keeping with Quaker tradition. In a Proclamation made on April 19, 2022, the West Bradford Township declared 2022 as the “Year of Humphry Marshall.” To commemorate what would be the 300th anniversary of the birth of Humphry Marshall, a number of Chester County non-profit organizations and community members announced special events and projects to pay tribute to his life and legacy.
Humphry Marshall Memorial Garden Set to Bloom at Embreeville Park
In 2021, the Marshallton Conservation Trust announced plans for a feasibility study to explore the creation of a Memorial Garden in honor of Humphry Marshall, the namesake of our village, that would be located on the grounds of the Bradford Friends Meeting. Then, in early December, we received a letter in which the Township expressed its intention to work with us to locate the Memorial Garden at a site within the new Embreeville Park.
This offer calls for the Garden to continue to be a project sponsored by MCT. Also, its primary objective will remain the same as originally announced, to serve as a tribute and living example of the historically significant botanical work done by Humphry Marshall, with the Township working in a supporting role.
Decisions surrounding the details associated with this project–such as its precise location within Embreeville Park, its size, and design–will be included in the discussions and related recommendations being developed by the Embreeville Land Use Steering Committee. MCT and the Township will be working collaboratively through this planning process and intend to deliver a final product of which all residents can be proud.
While our original feasibility study focused on having the Garden located within the boundaries of the village of Marshallton, moving the location to Embreeville Park ensures that it will be more broadly accessible to the public. Moreover, with the Townships’ assistance and strong interest in this project, the Garden will be financially more viable at its new location and can be actively promoted and marketed to a wider audience. Ultimately, while weighing all these important considerations, MCT’s board members agreed that the potential success of the Memorial Garden is better assured at its Embreeville Park site.
We are very grateful to the Bradford Friends Meeting who have remained patient and helpful as we completed our feasibility analysis. We look forward to other opportunities to work together with them on matters of common interest to both MCT and the village.
Your Support Makes All the Difference
Since 2009, Marshallton Conservation Trust’s commitment to steward and preserve Marshallton’s history has been a basic pillar of the organization. From maintaining the historic and cultural resources of our community to recording the history of village life through the Marshallton Oral History Project, you have made it possible to enhance Marshallton’s sense of place and maintain a connection to the past for future generations.